Identical twins. Poles apart.
Light and Shadow. Saffron and Sage.
Their Destinies interlocked in a Quest that will determine the fate of Humankind...
Pages: 442 (Roughly.)
Chapters: 30 (Plus a prologue.)
Publisher: LBLA Digital
Book Links: Goodreads
Uh oh... I never thought I'd see the day where I gave a book only two stars...
So I'm gonna work my arse off on this review to justify it. I will start by saying that my opinion isn't law, it's just an opinion. SCROLL might not work for me, but if you pop over to Goodreads, there are plenty of people it does rock. If you love angels, romance, history and heavy exposition, then this novel will be an utter treat.
I know what you're thinking: Why you telling us this, Matthew, we ain't dumb!? Truth is, I feel guilty, I hate when I have a lot of negatives for a novel, it inflicts pain on the reader and writer sides of me.
But I'll be honest and objective, so continue on, fellow readers, make way for my rambling!
Synopsis (Not a copy from the book, but I always keep my interpretations close.)
Good and evil continue to clash for control.
Saffron feels overshadowed by her twin sister's achievements.
Sage, sharp, intelligent and chosen by the mystical Seed, is oblivious to her sister's dilemma.
But Saffron should be careful what she wishes for.
Mysterious voices draw her to a Scroll of great power, an ancient relic pivotal to Heaven's battle.
The journey is dangerous and divisive.
And there's the very real possibility that Saffron will be trapped in Hell...
Plot - 2/5 Stars
SCROLL's blurb aptly inspires your interest, and while I had my reservations about SEED (this book's predecessor), I was excited to jump back in to the magical world the author has created. I feel the beginning does its best to capatilise on this emotion by throwing the reader right into the action. Normally, I love being chucked in at the deep end, but SCROLL fails to give enough recap.
You know how, as a series progresses, the author will leave succinct tidbits to catch you up with what's going on? Especially if you've waited a considerable gap between entries. These little paragraphs help you recall preceding plot points you might have forgotten, and overall help to round out the experience.
Well, SCROLL doesn't spend enough time on that. While there are short pointers to SEED, it does very little to call that novel's story and intricacies back to your mind, leaving you twisting in the wind as you try to force puzzle pieces together.
From there it gets worse. The reader is bombarded with mounds and mounds of exposition, without much structure. It's historical reference and story after historical reference and story, eventually becoming convoluted to the point of confusion. It's almost impossible to see the inner workings of the plot as it progresses.
The only positive of the fluff is how you do realise the painstaking time and effort that must have gone into research. Nielsen's intelligence is outstanding.
SCROLL would greatly benefit from being streamlined. There are too many inconsequential details given that have very little relevance to the actual story being told. It gets to the point where your mind just shuts off; the names and places and biblical references just pass over you.
It's more a textbook than a YA novel.
It really saddens me, because there's a diamond under all that fluff. When the dark clouds part we catch brief glimpses of a fascinating world.
But, by the end of the story, while I have a fundamental grasp of where everything is going, I'm completely clueless to what is actually happening.
Pace - 1/5 Stars
SCROLL's pace does not alter throughout its entirety. There is no way to tell two scenes apart.
Action scenes are bogged down by unnecessary bouts of exposition and a frustrating focus on details not related to the action. The immediacy, the urgency and danger are all non-existent, even though we're told repeatedly of the war raging around the characters. It never touches them, not meaningfully.
Overall, it's a slow-burning plot that never picks up speed.
Characters - 1.5/5 Stars
We fill the shoes of Saffron Woods, a rebellious teenager who is the polar opposite of her nerdy and bookish sister Sage. And I hate her. Saffron, that is. Her brash and conflicting personality does not inspire good feelings. Described as a Feminist, Saffron's views are often hypocritical. One second she's in a complete fury over women being objectified, yet, so many paragraphs of the novel are dedicated to the many guys she calls sexy and buff. She focuses on their washboard abs and literally strokes the feathers of an angel's wings in arousal only to be furious at the guy for reacting in kind.
Not only that, but on many an occasion our Saffron rages at the characters around her for smothering her with protection, yet she is incapable of looking after herself. The danger she runs into cannot be justified; her stupidity boils blood; and her rude and insensitive reaction to help is affronting.
The rest of the cast barely fill their roles. There are two love interests (yep, there's an instalove triangle) that are 'bad boys', Saffron's type as she describes, and she belittles and bombards them with insults and ineptitude.
I understand the author is trying to make the protagonist independent, but the force of this doesn't show.
One of the love interests, Finn, is Edward Cullen annoying without the positives. He tells Saffron not to trust him; he tells her he's evil; he does evil things; he says they can't be friends; and for some reason that isn't conveyed well to the reader they fall in love...
Sage seems to be the most rational of everyone, but even she's described as melodramatic and useless.
Writing - 2/5 Stars
Nielsen is a capable and talented writer, that much is evident. Sentence structure is always solid.
But, it's wasted again on the inconsequential. Most of the paragraphs in the novel are long-winded descriptions of things: Objects that have no impact; actions repeated over and over; appearances are beyond repetitive (not a page goes by where Finn's eye colour isn't described in the exact same way); and we spend most of our time counting blades of grass (hyperbole) than actually getting into the meat of the story.
It's especially bad during action scenes. Instead of focusing on the angelic battles, we're treated to huge statements about the weather and time of day; to the surroundings and their intricacies; to everything but the goddamn battle!
You get the picture.
A lot of SCROLL could be taken out and it wouldn't affect the overall story, which is so burdened by description that it's incomprehensible.
Overall - 2/5 Stars
There's a plot here trying to burst through, and the frustration at being able to taste but not touch it is infuriating.
But, again, you might be someone who enjoys this approach, and if you adore the first book in the series for all these reasons, then book two will wow you.
I guess the most important question is will I continue with the series?
Yes. I will. I don't give up easy, and I know what the author is capable of. I'm desperate to see the story reach its potential.
Previous Instalment: SEED
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